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Josh Beckett: ‘I feel partially responsible for what happened’

09.05.10 at 7:11 pm ET
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Josh Beckett

On the surface, it appeared to be another step in the right direction for Josh Beckett. The pitcher, however, didn’t totally buy into that notion.

After allowing three runs (1 earned) over 6 1/3 innings – striking out nine and walking two – Beckett had a hard time getting past the notion that his inability to get out of the seventh inning paved the way to a 7-5 White Sox win over the Red Sox, Sunday afternoon.

Beckett was replaced by Bard with one out in the seventh, runners on first and third and the Red Sox clinging to a 2-1 lead. After a steal of second base by Alex Rios, and a Paul Konerko strikeout, the reliever couldn’t handle a comebacker from Carlos Quentin, ultimately throwing a one-hopper to first baseman Mike Lowell which went astray, allowing the go-ahead run to score.

After Quentin was caught stealing to end the inning, Bard was replaced by Hideki Okajima in the eighth, eventually leaving it to closer Jonathan Papelbon to get the final five outs.

Papelbon couldn’t close the door, contributing to a four-run ninth inning from the White Sox that also included back-to-back bases loaded walks by Robert Manuel that proved the difference.

“Those guys down in the bullpen, they’re used to pitching at a certain time and a certain part of the game,” Beckett said. “I feel partially responsible for what happened because Bard has to come instead of the eighth, come in the seventh, and then Pap has to get more outs. That’s the frustrating thing.”

Beckett later added, “Bard is used to pitching the eighth. Pap’s used to pitching the ninth. Pap shouldn’t have to get five outs. If I go out for the seventh, I should finish the seventh.”

Also providing a source of frustration for Beckett was a pickoff play in the seventh that allowed  Juan Pierre (the potential game-tying run at the time) advance to third with one out.

“It wasn’t anything that we had set up. Everybody has the open glove, the open hand play. It becomes bad when you try to pick a guy off,” Beckett explained. “You don’t pick guys off, guys pick themselves off. At least I don’t. [White Sox starter] Mark Buerhle is a little different story because he’s got a good move. I tried to make too good a throw. I’m trying to pick him off instead of doing what I usually do whenever guys are on second base, and that’s mix in looks, mix in times, the occasional step off. If you do pick to second, you make a good throw to the second baseman or the shortstop, whoever is giving the play. I just tried making too good a throw.”

What Beckett can take out of the start was his ability to weather the storm that was allowing at least a pair of baserunners in each of the firs three innings, yet not give up more than a single run.

“I think I just made pitches when I needed to,” Beckett said. “There wasn’t any in particular pitch. I felt like we used all my stuff in those situations when we needed to make pitches.”

Closing Time: White Sox 7, Red Sox 5

09.05.10 at 5:47 pm ET
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Just like the sun late Sunday afternoon at Fenway, the Red Sox season is fading fast.

The fate of the 2010 Red Sox is all but sealed and they will almost certainly be watching the playoffs and World Series instead of participating. But Sunday was one of the ugliest losses of the season, rivaling the 6-5 loss to Toronto when the decline began. And in both cases, Jonathan Papelbon was the lead suspect at the scene of the crime.

There were plenty of dramatics. Victor Martinez drilling a 3-1 pitch from Mark Buehrle over the Green Monster for a two-run, go-ahead homer, the seven pitches from Jonathan Papelbon to Manny Ramirez in the first-ever meeting between two old teammates, which ended with, of all things, a hit batter.

There was the bloop hit by Carlos Quentin that turned into a run-scoring double with two outs in the ninth. That was followed by a sinking line drive by Ramon Castro that fell in front of a diving Ryan Kalish for the game-tying single.

Follow that up with appearances by Dustin Richardson and Robert Manuel, the last of which included a pair bases-loaded walks and you have the recipe for what happened Sunday afternoon as the sun was going down on the 2010 Red Sox.

And fans could not be blamed if they compared this Sunday afternoon with the Sunday afternoon last October against the Angels when Los Angeles completed a three-game ALDS sweep against the same pitcher.

WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE RED SOX:

– This time Josh BeckettDID NOT have his best stuff in the opening three innings. He allowed six hits over the first three innings of work but Chicago only penalized him with one run in that stretch. That allowed the Red Sox righty to stay in the game until one out in the seventh.

– Red Sox pitchers continue to bumble on the mound. And we’re not talking about their pitches. We’re talking about the inability to field the position. All season long, Red Sox pitchers have had a hard time fielding their position cleanly. On Sunday, in the space of five minutes, Beckett threw wildly back to second base, allowing Omar Vizquel to reach third. And Daniel Bard, from the seat of his pants, threw errantly to Mike Lowell at first to allow a second run to cross the plate.

Terry Francona has very little back-end bullpen left. He had to go to Daniel Bard in the seventh and Papelbon with one out in the eighth to rescue the game. Forty-eight pitches later, Papelbon was left to stare hopelessly into space from the dugout as Manuel walked in the two go-ahead runs.

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE RED SOX:

– The offense finally showed signs of life, and with two outs, no less. The clearest example of that was when Victor Martinez stepped to the plate with a runner on first and the Red Sox trailing 3-2 in the seventh. He drilled a 3-1 hanging pitch from Mark Buerhle over everything in left for his 14th homer of the season and a 4-3 Red Sox lead.

– After grazing Manny Ramirez with an inside fastball in the eighth to put runners on first and second with one out, Papelbon regained his focus, striking out Gordon Beckham looking and getting Juan Pierre to fly out to left to end the threat. Then, of course, came the ninth.

– Adrian Beltre again shows he’s 2010 MVP. He had three hits, joining Darnell McDonald, also with three hits, as the team leaders on the day.

Read More: Daniel Bard, Jonathan Papelbon, Josh Beckett, MLB

MRI set for Scutaro

09.05.10 at 3:06 pm ET
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And so it continues.

After hitting .314 and .271 in June and July, respectively, Marco Scutaro saw his average dip to .237 in the month of August as he dealt with nagging shoulder pain that first bothered him in May.

After playing both games Saturday, Scutaro was given Sunday off and will get Monday to rest as well before getting an MRI on his ailing right shoulder on Tuesday and not play until then, Red Sox manager Terry Francona announced Sunday morning.

Francona said Sunday he noticed Saturday night in Game 2 of the day-night doubleheader that it was bothering him again.

Francona, meantime, confirmed that Jason Varitek beginning two-game rehab with Triple-A Pawtucket today.

“He’ll catch about half the game. I’d like to get him to that third at-bat. Common sense needs to prevail. If the game is crazy but as long as he feels good he can spin around and DH [Monday] and get another three or four at-bats, see how he feels. I told him and Torey [Lovullo], he can play as long as he wants. It’s all up to how he feels physically.”

“Saw it on his swing in his second at-bat,” Francona said. He’s been feeling it for about a month. We’ll get him an MRI on Tuesday to make sure of where he is. We know he’s playing through a lot [of pain]. How much we don’t know but we’ll get him looked at on Tuesday.”

Scutaro was called into the manager’s office to sit down with Francona and general manager Theo Epstein to discuss his situation.

Read More: Boston Red Sox, marco scutaro, MLB, MRI

Coello finally catches on in MLB

09.05.10 at 1:55 pm ET
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This is not what Robert Coello envisioned when he was drafted by the Cincinnati Reds in 2004 as a catcher. But on Sunday, when he entered the Red Sox clubhouse, he did so as a right-handed reliever available to Terry Francona out of the bullpen for the last four weeks of the season.

The Red Sox selected Coello to the major league roster from Triple-A Pawtucket on Sunday after the 25-year-old went 7-6 with a 3.86 ERA in 32 games – including 13 starts – for Triple-A Pawtucket and Double-A Portland. In 107 1/3 innings with the PawSox, he struck out 130 and held opposing batters to an impressive .192 average.

He missed the 2006 season with a before signing a minor league deal with the Angels, who converted him to a pitcher in 2007.

“He’ll be in the bullpen,” Francona said. “It’s kind of an interesting story and probably not the route a lot of guys have taken but it doesn’t mean you can’t be successful. It’ll be interesting. He has a pretty good fastball. He’s a conversion guy. His secondary pitches are probably still in progress but it’ll be interesting to see how he does.”

Coello spent 2008 in the independent Golden Baseball League before the Red Sox showed interest and signed him.

Read More: Cincinnati Reds, Los Angeles Angels, MLB, Red Sox

Closing time (Game 2): White Sox 3, Red Sox 1

09.04.10 at 10:14 pm ET
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The Red Sox lost both legs of their day-night doubleheader with the White Sox, dropping the nightcap and wasting a strong effort from John Lackey in a 3-1 loss. The offense struggled to get anything substantial going against White Sox righty Gavin Floyd, picking up just one run off the starter on an RBI single from Marco Scutaro.

For the recap of the first game, click here.

WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE RED SOX

- The White Sox’ lone run in the third was an ugly one. After Lackey allowed a leadoff triple to White Sox outfielder Carlos Quentin, he recovered nicely by getting Ramon Castro swinging. With one man out, Gordon Beckham grounded to first and Victor Martinez came home with the ball.

Quentin appeared to be toast at the plate, but despite having the ball a few steps prior to the outfielder’s arrival, Jarrod Salatalamacchia dropped it when contact was made between the two. This allowed the run to score and Saltalamacchia to be charged an error on the failed fielder’s choice. The play made for one of the two unearned runs for Lackey on the night.

- The Red Sox didn’t exactly put themselves in position to pile it on Gavin Floyd throughout the night and didn’t pose much more of a threat to the bullpen. They put only three runners in scoring position the entire night, only one of whom scored, in the form of Ryan Kalish. The rookie outfielder’s run put the Sox on the board in the bottom of the fifth when Scutaro singled past a diving Beckham and into right on the 88th pitch from Floyd.

- Kalish had a bit of an adventure in the seventh inning, which allowed the White Sox’ second run to score. After Quentin doubled to center off Lackey, Kalish’s errant throw in went into uncharted territory past second base and into foul territory, where Saltalamacchia ran to retrieve it. By the end of the play, a run had scored and Quentin, who improved to 7-for-11 off Lackey, was standing on third. Quentin would go on to score on a sacrifice fly from Castro.

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE RED SOX

- John Lackey was very good for the first six innings before running into some trouble in the seventh. Though he threw a lot of pitches early due to deep counts and/or baserunners, he got more efficient as the night went on. After taking 28 pitches to retire the first four hitters, including an eight-pitch at-bat that culminated in a strikeout of Alexei Ramirez, Lackey stayed sharp at a more economical rate through the fifth (he averaged 7.0 pitches to his first four batters and 3.25 to his next 16). He then cruised in the sixth, taking 10 pitches to retire the side in order and pick up his seventh strikeout of the night.

Though things did take a turn for the worse in the seventh due to Quentin’s continued dominance of the righty and some poor defense by the Sox, Lackey still had one of his better nights as a member of the Sox. On the night, Lackey gave up four hits and two walks over his seven innings, with just one of the White Sox’ three runs earned. He struck out seven and hit a batter on 116 pitches.

Speaking of hit batsmen, and making the night more impressive for Lackey was the fact that he executed knowing he had to be careful throwing inside on hitters. Eyebrows were raised when Lackey plunked Quentin in the at-bat following his play at the plate, which caused home plate umpire James Hoye to warn both dugouts.

Both managers protested, as the plunking loaded the bases with two down. Lackey came back to strike out Castro to end the inning, getting him out of the jam. Daniel Nava later fell victim to a drilling of his own in the sixth inning but Floyd saw no punishment.

- After going 2-for-4 in the day game with a pair of bad strikeouts, Bill Hall was the bright spot offensively for the Red Sox. Hitting ninth, the second baseman went 2-for-2 with a double off Floyd. Prior to Saturday, Hall had mustered just one hit over his last four games. Hall was pinch-hit for in the seventh with Jed Lowrie, who struck out swinging in each of his two at-bats.

Read More: Carlos Quentin, john lackey, Manny Ramirez,

Postgame Notes: The (Wally) Bell tolled for Hall, Sox

09.04.10 at 6:34 pm ET
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Bill Hall had the pivotal at-bat of the Red Sox’ 3-1 loss to the White Sox. After Jed Lowrie walked on four pitches, Hall stepped to the plate with the bases loaded and one out in the bottom of the second inning, at a time when his team trailed, 1-0.

Hall struck out on three pitches against Chicago starter John Danks. After the game, Hall made clear that he believed home plate umpire Wally Bell was in no small measure responsible.

“We had the bases loaded. I came up. He’d just thrown four straight balls, so obviously it’s a situation where I’m on the take. Umpire gave him a pitch that wasn’t really even close,” said Hall. “When you get behind in the count against a guy like that, give him a chance to make pitches on a guy that can make pitches, it’s going to be tough. Next batter came up, [Darnell McDonald, who grounded into a 6-4 fielder's choice], same thing.

“When you give a guy a chance to make pitches and you’re worried about swinging at pitches you don’t normally swing at, it puts you in a bind as a hitter. you start to expand your zone and swing at pitches because you don’t know if he’s going to call it a strike or call it a ball. We squandered an opportunity right there. Obviously, one pitch shouldn’t define an at-bat, but it definitely can put you in a hole. He made pitches after those.”

Jason Varitek will start a rehab assignment with Triple-A Pawtucket on Sunday, catching four or five innings. He might also DH on Monday in the PawSox’ season finale.

Mike Lowell discussed further the non-displaced rib fracture that he suffered on Aug. 20.

It has been an amazing run, of course, for the ribs of Red Sox players. Jacoby Ellsbury has missed almost the entire year after his collision with Adrian Beltre in April. Jeremy Hermida missed several weeks after he met Beltre’s knee.

Now, Lowell becomes the third member of the club to suffer a fracture that is rarely seen among baseball players.

“Beltre didn’t even hit me,” marveled Lowell, of an injury he incurred from a run-in with Blue Jays infielder John McDonald. “I just think it’s a freak thing.”

That said, Lowell feels that his game is not impaired by the injury, which was diagnosed as a fracture following an MRI and CT scan on Friday.

“It bothers me to sleep or if I get fooled swinging, so don’t get fooled,” Lowell offered. “They told me as long as I can deal with it, I can play. Hurting my hip last year, this is a much lesser inconvenience. Obviously I feel it sometimes. And when I finish all my cage routine, that’s when I feel it. I don’t think it changes my swing so I’m cool with that.”

J.D. Drew and David Ortiz were a combined 0-for-8 with four strikeouts, with all but one of those outs coming against White Sox lefty Danks. Ortiz is hitting .205/.259/.315/.574 against lefties, and Drew is hitting .183/.278/.290/.568 against them.

Read More: bill Hall, Jason Varitek, mike lowell, wally bell

Buchholz mulls a hard-luck loss

09.04.10 at 6:05 pm ET
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Clay Buchholz was well aware of his struggles against the White Sox. He entered Saturday with an 0-1 record and 14.08 ERA in his two disastrous outings against Chicago.

On Saturday, he suffered another defeat against the opponent. And yet, in Boston’s 3-1 loss, it was a very different scenario that unfolded.

For most of the day, Buchholz threw pitches how and where he wanted. Yet the White Sox hitters proved capable of fighting off one tough pitch after another, knocking Buchholz out after five innings in which he allowed two runs, sending him to his first loss since July 21, and ending a string of seven straight quality starts.

“I’ve never really fared well against this team,” Buchholz shrugged. “They put together some good at-bats, fouled off some good pitches, pitch count got up really quick. I got ahead in the count most cases. They battled off some good pitchers’ pitches, found a way to get on base and score some runs.”

The White Sox clearly had a game plan against the young right-hander, whose 2.25 ERA leads the American League. Hitters such as Konerko, Manny Ramirez and Andruw Jones rifled hits down the right-field line, staying back on the ball and thus putting themselves in a better position not to be beaten on changeups.

While Buchholz was not hit hard, allowing just six hits, Chicago proved opportunistic in stringing together enough offense to produce their two runs.

“You work to execute pitches. When you execute them and it doesn’t work, it gets a little frustrating,” said Buchholz. “They did a really good job of that today, especially their guys who have a lot of power to the pull side. They gave up there and went the other way. it kind of foiled my gameplan. That’s what I wanted to do. I wanted to make them hit it to the other part of the park and that made it worse.”

After he needed just eight pitches to sail through a perfect first inning, he worked through a 22-pitch second inning (highlighted by a nine-pitch at-bat by Paul Konerko that culminated in a single to right) and then a 32-pitch third inning that featured an 11-pitch at-bat (the longest of the season against Buchholz) from Gordon Beckham and an eight-pitch battle with Juan Pierre.

Buchholz had just nine plate appearances of nine or more pitches entering the game. On Saturday, he had two such battles for just the second time all year, something that hastened his exit.

The White Sox quickly elevated Buchholz’ pitch count on a day when the Red Sox were keeping him on a fairly short leash. The Sox are considering having Buchholz (15-6) work Wednesday on three days’ rest. On a day when the team was losing, and Buchholz’ pitch count had elevated to 95 through his five innings of work, the team elected not to send him out for the sixth inning.

“The pitch count got up there really quick. I felt like I was throwing the ball well, I felt like I had good stuff, but every single one of the guys in the box battled,” said Buchholz. “If they wanted me to come back [on Wednesday], if I got over 100 pitches, it might have been a little tough for me to come back on three days rest. They told me the situation before the game. That’s the way it is.”

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